Or – “I’ve Got A Bad Feeling About This…”

Recent discussions in the Major Spoilers forums have touched on the topic of anthology series, and why it’s difficult to sell a book where the main selling point is that there are different selling points from month to month.  This discussion reminded me of some of my favorite anthologies (DC’s Wasteland, Marvel Comics Presents in the pre-Ghost Rider era, Negative Burn) and this issue, which I believe to be one of the finest and most balanced anthology issues ever produced, right up there with some of the best that Rod Serling has to offer.  As you’ll see, though, this issue also has a heavy dose of Pop Culture and a side of snark, making it a book right up Matthew’s alley…

Star Wars Tales #19
WRITTEN BY Jim Pascoe/Ken Lizzi/Jeremy Barlow/Scott Kurtz/

Andrew Robinson & Jim Royal/Haden Blackman/Jason Hall
ART BY Ramon Bachs/Lucas Marangon/Greg Tocchini/Scott Kurtz/
Nuria Perls/Sean Murphy/Paul lee
INKS BY Kris Justice/Eddie Wagner
COLORS BY Tom Smith/Michael Atiyeh/Jim Zubkavich/Dan Jackson
LETTERS BY Steve Dutro/Micheal Heisler/Robert Kirkman
COVER BY Andrew Robinson
PUBLISHED BY Dark Horse Comics

Previously, on Star Wars Tales:

Episode IV

It is a period of civil war.
Rebel spaceships, striking from a
hidden base, have won their
first victory against the evil
Galactic Empire. During the battle,
Rebel spies managed to steal
secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate
weapon, the Death Star, an armred
space station with enough power to
destroy an entire planet. Pursued by the
Empire’s sinister agents, Princess
Leia races home aboard her starship,
custodian of the stolen plans that can save
her people and restore freedom to the
galaxy…

We kick off our festivities with a story set soon after Return of the Jedi, as the crew of the Millenium Falcon (Chewie, Han Solo, Luke, Leia and Cleveland) chase through space after some Imperial leftovers, surplus TIE Interceptors.  They chase them down, and find a couple of dozen Jawa sandcrawlers floating in space.  They land on a planet and find themselves greeted by a creature who identifies himself as “The Artist Perek,” who uses old technology as a theme in his works.  Han and Luke try to figure out the link between the ship and Jawas, while their droid pals saty on the Millenium Falcon…

Luke’s reverie is interrupted by a horde of Jawas on the attack, but the last Jedi makes short work of them. Han is distressed to find that his ship is gone, and wonders about their ‘droids, just in time to find a mechanically mutated Threepio and Artoo attacking as well.  Luke’s bionic hand begins to grown strange appendages as well, and barely escapes Perek.  As Han and Leia are taken, the artist taunts Luke, explaining that his machine virus will turn all flesh in the galaxy into fuel for his conquering forces…   Perek’s victory is assured, until he breaks the cardinal rule of The Dozens:  No Mothers (or cyborg daddies, neither.)  He entreats Luke to stop resisting.  “Like your father, soon you will be mostly machine!” laughs Perek.  “MY FATHER WAS NOT A MACHINE!” cries Luke, his berzerk button firmly pressed…

The story, oddly enough, doesn’t explain how R2D2, C3PO or the Millenium Falcon are restored…  After a cute two page tale of the empire which underlines the need for appropriate military intelligence (Two words:  Reconnoiter first.) We are told a tale of the perfidy of Count Dooku, soon after the Battle of Geonosis, which is cute and all, but too “First Trilogy” for me to do much more than ooh and aah at the neat little retcons…  Then, we are told a tale of legendary scope, a tale that transcends the borders of a galaxy far, far away, a tale whose echoes would be heard centuries later.  The tale of “The Rebel Club.”

“Any questions?” asks the Dark Lord of the Sith, to which Han answers, “Yeah.  Does Count Chocula know that you’re raiding his wardrobe?”  HA!  Captain Solo messes with Vader’s head (“Blast doors short out all the time, the world’s an imperfect place.”) and earns himself seven hours (“It’s six, sir,” corrects Luke) in the interrogation chambers. “The next time I have to come in here,” remarks Vader, “I’m crushin’ tracheas.”  Even his companions aren’t immune to Han’s biting wit…

But bad boys get the chicks, and his tale of woe earns Han the admiration of the princess, while Ben arrives and reminds them that he listens to their conversations, he hears everything, he is the eyes and ears of this fully armed and operation battle station.  “By the way, I’ve disabled the tractor beam.”  Heh.  As our heroes escape, Vader and Ben have a showdown, leading to the climactic moment of story…

DON’T! DON’T! DONT! Don’t yoooou… forget abooout meeee!  I am loving this whole sequence, by the way. The next story is another winner, as a mysterious robed man tells a familiar tale.  “There once was a great leader who was strong in the force, and the force was strong in his only son, who was taken away as a child.”  The leader and the son met in battle, and the son lost his hand, and his lightsaber in the battle.  That lightsabre has travelled across the galaxy, from hand to hand, but no one understood it’s power.  The lightsaber brought great misfortune to all who carried it, until it fell into the hands of a wannabee Sith lord.  Now, with the mysterious artifact in hand, he has come to try and capture the hidden power in the blade…

Boba Fett and Bossk, among others, cameo as doomed holders of the legendary blade, and the scene of a Jawa setting himself aflame is a hoot, as well as the kick-@$$ ending.  Another tale, it’s setting uncertain, tells of Chewbacca and Han Solo crossing the path of an Imperial Star Destroyer, and being forced to leap into Hyperspace without setting coordinates.  The twosome is hopelessly lost, and the Falcon badly damaged as they break out of lightspeed and are forced to crash-land on a nearby planet…

Han’s disdain for Endor is hilarious, by the way, given Harrison Ford’s (possibly apocryphal) dislike of the end of Return Of The Jedi…  (“Can’t we just kill him so I don’t have to go to the Teddy Bear’s picnic?”)  They’re ambushed by the natives, and Han takes an arrow through the heart, while Chewie chases the bad guys off with his bowcaster.  Dragging his best pal back to the ship, Chewbacca is unable to save his best bud, and Han Solo takes a moment to say goodbye to his best pal…

Years pass, then decades, but eventually, nearly a century later, the legend of “Sasquatch” bring attention to the hidden jungle, and with attention comes questions.  Enter a mysterious archeologist, armed with his trusty whip and sidearm, arriving to find out about the legends of Bigfoot firsthand.  They search for the hidden cave, but the archeologist, a man named “Jones” realizes the truth:  It’s no cave.

The woeful truth of Sasquatch will stay a secret, if Doctor Jones has anything to say about it.  After all, there IS no time for love…  Given the awesomeness of the story I call “Crisis on Infinite Harrison Fords,” it’s hard to imagine that the final story can top it.  Well, prepare to be dazzled, Faithful Spoilerite, because it does.  In a story set “A long time from now, in a galaxy far, far away” we are given the story of two young amphibian-type aliens, whose people are trapped under the thumb of insectoid alien overlords.  Two of the youths set off to find the lost “or-uh-cull,” a storyteller of legend, whose words are said to transform their oppression into hope for a brighter future.  Their trek leads them to a hidden cave, wherein they find the legendary storyteller, in the form of a familiar friend of all who know these settings…

Gathering his ailing faculties, the ‘droid oracle tells them the only story that he can, a story of change, a story of overcoming obstacles that seem unknowable, a story about freedom and goodness triumphing against the forces of darkness.  It’s a story of a new hope, a story that begins like this:

“It is a period of great civil war…”

The children listen enraptured, and beg for more stories.  “I… vaguely remember earlier stories,” says the storyteller, “but they’re not very interesting.”  HA!  Meta humor FTW.  The little ones are surprised when a bolt of energy shatters the storyteller’s head, and their bug-oppressors find them.  One is killed, while the other hides until they exit.  Only when they’re gone does he notice his destiny awaiting him…

There is hope…  That’s a serious goosebump ending, right there.  As with any anthology issue, the stories in this comic vary in quality from tale to tale, but none of them is any less than casually entertaining, and none of them are clunkers that make you want to put down the book.  The last two stories, in conjunction with “The Rebel Club,” constitute an agglomerated chunk of storytelling that would be impressive anywhere, but combined with the rest of the book, they make for a fascinating reading experience overall.  This book has stuck in my head for years after a casual read in the library while waiting for someone (probably my friend Sarah to find some book about beads or some such), but when it turned up in my buy pile this last week, I knew I had to own it.  Often times, I have trouble wih the “Expanded Universe” (Luuke?  Really?  LUUKE???) but this issue delivers the best parts of Star Wars without having to google the name of the H.R. Puf’nstuf guy who piloted the Millenium Falcon with Lando in “Jedi,” and it delivers some serious ‘Hell, Yeah!’ moments as we go.  For an anthology issue to rock this hard is an impressive feat, but for a SIXTY-FOUR page anthology issue, it’s a crowning achievement, causing Star Wars Tales #19 to earn 5 out of 5 stars overall.  It’s a killer issue, filled with moments that will stick with me and inspire me to remember what I loved about Star Wars in the first place…

Rating: ★★★★★

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  Why in the world doesn’t Chewbacca get a medal at the end of Star Wars?  (I don’t like to use the title “A New Hope,” by the way.  Reminds me too much of ‘Days of Our Lives.’)  His actions were no less heroic than Han or Luke’s…

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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3 Comments

  1. Frank
    August 23, 2010 at 8:00 am — Reply

    I will have to pull out this issue to reread. Overall, Star Wars Tales were pretty good. Only the last few issues (when they changed editors) did it start to suck.

    Thanks for the memories.

  2. August 23, 2010 at 8:49 am — Reply

    I wanted to get this for just the Indy/Han crossover, but with the Rebel Club too, I am getting this ASAP.

    New Hope? What New Hope? There is Star Wars, Empire, and Jedi. THATS IT. Chewy didn’t get a medal because the Rebel’s are a bunch of royalistic crap bags that view none humanoids to be inferior. I guess they view him as a mascot, and nothing else.

  3. hermit
    August 23, 2010 at 9:38 am — Reply

    i stopped getting this series when they decided taht all the stories would be cannon with the Star Wars mythos. that was a lame decision, because the entire series was some of the most entertaning, fun, dark and off the wall star wars stuff i’ve seen in a long time.

    i have almost the entire run (1 to 21) and despite the ups and downs, this is a must read for every star wars fan.

    oh yeah, and the han solo/indiana jones crossover is just great stuff.

    Kevin Rubio rules

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